Provincial Government scores 48%

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance has given the provincial government a score of 48% for 2014. We have evaluated the work done by the departments, the attendance of MECs in portfolio committee meetings and the audit outcomes of the departments.

In seeking to congratulate the government on that which is good, we have given departments bonus points on their audit outcomes if they have maintained clean audit status, like Social Development did, or when entities under their control improved their audits, like the Northern Cape Tourism Authority under control of Economic Development did.

We did also deduct points from Health, Education, Roads and Public Works as well as Transport, Safety and Liaison for being the biggest contributors to provincial irregular expenditure. We also deducted a point from COGHSTA for failing to bring about improvements in municipal audit outcomes. It cannot be that 11 municipalities have received only disclaimer audits since the 2008/09 financial year and that interventions from the provincial government has no impact on improvements.

The full scores are as follows:

  • Office of the Premier (5/10): The Premier set an example for the

provincial cabinet in attending the portfolio committee meeting dealing with the annual report of 2013/14. However, the Office of the Premier still had material findings on its audit outcome. We are also concerned about the lack of a coherent strategy for provincial growth and development.

  • Transport, Safety and Liaison (5/10): The department is the fourth

highest contributor to irregular expenditure in the province. In 2013/14, the department increased irregular expenditure from R112 million to R120 million. It is disappointing that the department has remained stagnant with an unqualified audit. Learner transport is an important service delivery function of the department and impacts directly on thousands of learners across the province. The department has failed to render the function optimally and efficiently. Instead, it was marred by seemingly fraudulent contracts and service providers were left begging for their money.

  • Social Development (7/10): According to the Annual report, transfer

payments were made to about 800 registered non-profit organizations to render services to communities on behalf of the department.

Investments were made into capacity building of 255 NPO’s aimed at strengthening the NPO capacity to deliver services and to comply with legislative prescripts that regulate funding of such NPO’s from departmental budget. A total of R192 754 million was transferred to mainly NPOs compared to R159 518 in previous year. Of the money transferred, unspent funds totalled R40 316 million compared with R23,

671 million last year. This is worrying, as NPO’s are meant to be at the forefront of service delivery. If, however, they are not spending their funds properly, this puts into the questions the services they are delivering. In this regard, the department does not have a firm grip on its NPO’s and it therefore cannot account for spending of public money and in turn, for value of money from NPO services.

  • Health (2/10): The department has a shortage of ambulances. It also

has a shortage of emergency care practitioners. On top of this, the EMS college is facing a risk of losing their accreditation due to a lack of infrastructure. Ultimately, this results in ambulances not attending to emergencies within the required time. It also translates directly into there still being single crew ambulances in existence.

Single crew ambulances pose a risk to sick and injured patients, and are in effect nothing more than glorified taxis.

  • Roads and Public Works (3/10): The major challenge that the

department faces is that the majority of the contractors are unable to complete their projects within the contract period.  Only 9 out of a targeted 11 construction projects were completed within the contract period. The non-performance of contractors remains a problem, especially with your lower grade contractors. Only 20 out of a target of 41 projects were completed within budget. According to the department some projects started very late in the financial year.

Only 50 out of a target of 58 projects were in construction at the time the report was printed. The contractors did not perform according to the timelines.

  • Environment and Nature Conservation (7/10): Climate change is one of

the unfunded mandates.  Climate change and the impact thereof on the environment is one of the major challenges facing the province. The department has engaged with other entities for additional funds, however, it never seems to make headway in this regard and as such, mitigation strategies to combat the effects of climate change remain a pipedream.

  • Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform (5/10): Despite

repeated calls by farmers unions and the DA to prioritise disaster management, the department still fails to take this critical responsibility seriously. This is in spite of commitments made by MEC of Agriculture, Norman Shushu in 2011 that a Disaster Management Strategy would be finalised within the first quarter of 2011/2012.  As a result, the processes required to declare natural disasters as provincial disasters takes too long. As a result, affected farmers wait extended periods of time before emergency assistance is made available. At the same time, the department takes too long to spend the relief funds, which significantly delays the repairs to damaged infrastructure.

  • Education (3/10): It is unacceptable that the department which

receives the bulk of the provincial funding remains stagnated with a qualified audit outcome. We are concerned about poor financial management and poor administration of service delivery projects in the department. One of the key service delivery concerns we have is the poor management of the National School Nutrition Programme. Not all qualifying schools gave their learners meals by 10:00 am. We would like to see that the department considers giving qualifying learners a breakfast at 7:30 am with a lunch to follow later.

  • Sport, Arts and Culture (4/10): The department has to improve its

control over payments. In the past year, it has made payments without receiving goods or services in return. We want to see that the department reprioritises funds to equip all public libraries with free internet access. Currently, only 52% of public libraries in the province offer this service.

  • Economic Development and Tourism (6/10): The MEC for Finance is the

only MEC who failed to attend a single portfolio committee meeting.

This is a worrying indication of an unwillingness to account to the Legislature on how funds have been spent and why. We need a new approach to economic development which does not rely simply on a few mega-projects, but rather has a consistently positive impact on growth and development.

  • COGHSTA (4/10): The housing need in the province has to be addressed

without incurring irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. It cannot be that we have a housing shortage of 44 111 and then brag with building a mere 2 646 houses. The department is quick to blame municipalities for failing to adhere to supply chain management processes, but fails to acknowledge that housing and housing rectification projects remains the single biggest contributor to irregular expenditure incurred by the department.

  • Northern Cape Provincial Treasury (7/10): While not a main service

delivery department, Treasury helps to establish a framework for service delivery to take place. It manages to discharge most of its duties in an efficient way. However, it seems that Treasury did not play its part in ensuring compliance with Instruction Note 01 of January 2014. This Instruction Note has the aim of cutting unnecessary costs and ensuring governments can deliver services. Some of its regulations should have been enforced since January 2014, but this has not been done. This was commented on by the MEC for Finance during the Adjustment Appropriation Bill, but no indication was given as to how Treasury will ensure compliance in the future.